I met recently with Jason Brown, planting co-pastor of City Church of Long Beach. We met at Fox Coffee House in the Wrigley neighborhood that City Church calls its home. And we spent some time discussing the question of calling for a church planter. We spent some time talking about how he made the decision to plant a church in Long Beach.
He described a process that he felt was less than supernatural, but filled with confirmation from places that he valued. Jason and his church plant partner Bill White knew they wanted to plant in a multi-ethnic area, and they knew they wanted to live in the neighborhood where they planted their church. They also knew early on in the process that they were interested in planting in Long Beach, and as they started taking steps in that direction, there were friends and ministry leaders to confirm each of those steps. Jason describes how they decided where to plant their church saying, “We went to the original director of Plant Long Beach and we said, we’d like to do a multi-ethnic, maybe neighborhood-based church, and without blinking, without pausing, he said, ‘You should plant in the Wrigley neighborhood.’ Within a week, another conversation with another guy who is interested in Long Beach, planting churches in LB, and he said, you guys should plant a church in the Wrigley neighborhood. And…we were like, okay, it’s Wrigley.”
For Jason, nothing about this feels particularly supernatural. He talks about his calling to be a church planter as part of how he is wired. For him, the call to plant a church was one that was confirmed and encouraged by people he trusted, and the location for that church was confirmed and encouraged by people who understood Long Beach. He says, “When I think of all of the big moves in my life, many of them have been initiated by other people and circumstances.” This included the decision to plant a church in Long Beach. He says, “You know, for me, it wasn’t very spiritual, or very charismatic. It was like, I think God loves churches. My good buddy Bill feels very called and he says, ‘Will you do it with me?’ … and I knew this was a good option. So we’ll go do it.” But for Jason, these outside confirmations were also a confirmation of an existing desire. He says, “Hopefully there is some resonance inside of you that is like, oh that’s something I would like to do.”
For those deciding whether or not to plant a church, stories like Jason’s might reflect a reality in their own lives. God may have wired you in a particular way that gives you the skills to plant a church. Or maybe he has built you so that with a little encouragement from others, the idea of church planting resonates deep in your soul. Or maybe it’s just, as Jason puts it, that “planting a multi-everything church in a place that doesn’t have a flourishing church, or a very flourishing corporate presence of Jesus Christ, I look at that, and like any number of good things, it’s a good thing.” Maybe bringing that presence of Jesus Christ is all the confirmation we need to step into something that those around us are calling us to do. We may not think that there is anything particularly spiritual about that. But it’s Jesus. And he is good. So his work is good too.